As the sun shines down, a herd of young calves and their mothers gather around a pond tucked away in a Buffalo County pasture. The scene is a small piece of heaven that Alec and Meredith Ibach like to call home. They are the fifth generation on the family farm and ranch near Sumner, raising corn, soybeans, and beef cattle. After starting his career with Farm Credit Services, Alec returned to the farm in 2018 with a mission to continue and grow his family’s legacy.
“I came back to the farm to help my parents. I also wanted to make sure that I had some supplemental income, so a colleague and I started an agriculture inputs business,” Alec said. Agriculture inputs are products used in farming that include animal feed, fertilizers, and permitted plant protection products. “I love working with other farmers and helping them better their business. My favorite part is learning from farmers I’ve admired growing up.”
Alec’s wife, Meredith is an elementary school teacher in Kearney. Meredith began teaching in Omaha but made the move to a more rural part of the state with Alec a few years ago. Farming and ranching with her husband gives Meredith a unique experience and perspective in her classroom.
“We had somebody from the county Farm Bureau board come in and read a book to the students about John Deere. A lot of the children didn’t know what a John Deere tractor was or why tractors are working the fields. Even though kindergarteners have a basic agricultural education, it has been really beneficial for my students,” Meredith said.
On the family farm, the Ibachs raise primarily Angus cattle. They focus on an all-natural and non-hormone system that they sell to Nebraska feed yards who target domestic, European, and Asian markets around the U.S. To ensure they are raising a quality beef product while protecting the environment, Alec says they institute rotational grazing practices.
“We have a two-to three-week rotational grazing system. One of the reasons we do rotational grazing is to focus on conservation management of the resources that we have. Our cattle have been grazing this land for over 60 years. In order to maintain our resources, we have to treat it right,” Alec said.
The Ibachs also grow hay and corn that is cut into silage (pasture grass that has been ‘pickled’ or fermented) and used as feed for their herd during the winter months. Other crops they raise are sold to local elevators. It’s this diversification that has helped make their operation more sustainable.
Family is everything to Alec and Meredith. “I wouldn't be able to do this without a partner like Meredith because it takes a lot of time and there's a lot of variability in farming,” Alec said.
“It really is a testament to Alec that he is out on the ranch and running a business, doing an amazing job. It is really cool for me to get to see that side of him,” Meredith said.
Alec and Meredith Ibach are members of the Buffalo County Farm Bureau.